Following a test of SpaceX’s Mars-bound spacecraft, Starship, Elon Musk confirmed that the latest version of Starship, SN11, has crashed and been destroyed.
The company was hopeful that it would take off, before coming back down to safely land, however halfway through the test SpaceX cut the live stream with little explanation, whilst videos taken near to the take off site suggested that it had been destroyed.
Musk tweeted “A high production rate solves many ills,”, seemingly in reference how SpaceX, owing to the large number of Starships it manufactures, can move on quickly from tests, even if they are destroyed, as was the case in this launch. Musk later posted, “At least the crater is in the right place!”, apparently confirming what was assumed to be a large explosion. His tweets suggest that the results have not caused any critical damage.
Musk went on to add various detail on Twitter. “Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed,” he wrote. “Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.”
This was the latest of several different versions of the Starship by SpaceX, of which two have so far been destroyed in previous tests. However the previous version successfully landed on the launchpad and then exploded after, making it further than this version. The new versions, starting at SN15, already have a number of improvements built-in that will hopefully stop more similar explosions in the future.
Musk tweeted that “SN15 rolls to launch pad in a few days,” and “It has hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics/software & engine.” “Hopefully, one of those improvements covers this problem. If not, then retrofit will add a few more days.” he stated.